Digitized by the Internet Archive in 2013 http://archive.org/details/constitutionofstOOstst JOHN ELU8 COULTER COLUECTtON 1861 - 1947 cons: tution ST. STEPHEN'S EV. .ttJTH. CONGREGATION, CATAWBA CO., N. C. PRV tVMBLE. - Wc the undersigned m* rubers of the Ev. Lutheran Church, sensible of our spiritual needs and mindful of our Christian duties, in Jesus' name and with the hope of His blessing, adopt the ubjoined Constitution, there- by to perfect the organization of a church in which we hope God to be both our Saviour and our Lord and we his people, praying that Je will graciously multiply and prosper us to the prai: $ of His great name. Amen. CHA TER I. TKKNAME. The name of this cor%r« gation shall be St. Stephen's Evangelical Lutheran Congregation. CHA) TER II. THK I c TRINE. Art. i. This congreg don confesses the canonical Books of the Old and New Testaments to be the inspired word of God and therefou the only rule of faith and life. It also confesses the conf sional writings of the Ev. Luth. Church as container 1 in the Book of Concord of the year 1580 to be a correct interpretation of this word. Art. 2. Doctrines and practices in conflict with this confession shall not be to! rated in this congregation. CHAP! ,R III. THE MEMi 5RSHIP. Art. i. Only those pers* <s can become and be mem- bers of this congregation : a. who are baptized, b. who unreservedly m *ept as their own the con- fession of faith as la, d down in the second chap- ter of this constituti mi, c. who abstain from th manifest works of the flesh (Gal. 5: 19 — 21) and lead a Christian life, d. who do not in any way enccourage, or affiliate with, any uagi c wtr y society, e. who agree to subject themselves to the regula- tions adopted by the congregation not in con- flict with the word of God, and to Christian Dis- cipline as laid down in Math. 18. Art. 2. New members can be received at any regular meeting of the congregation. Such applicants as come provided with letters of dismissal from a congregation in full union of faith and practice with this congregation shall be received at once. Others may be proposed by any voting member for reception. After their names have been proposed it shall be the duty of the pastor and church-council to examine tHjfe applicant in regard to his (or her) faith, and to report :u the next regular meeting of the congregation, when final action shall be taken on his (or her) reception into the congregation. All newly received members of the cong negation shall be announced from the pulpit at the first sr rvice after their reception. All newly received male members shall subscribe the constitution of the congregation. The names of female members shall be entered on the church-record by the secretary. 3 Art. 3. It shall be the .duty of each member: a. to attend the public services as regularly as possible, b. to participate as often as possible in the celebra- tion of the Holy Supper, c. to register his (or her) name as a communicant previous to Confession and Absolution , d. to bring his children to the Lord in Holy Bap- tism, e. to send them to the pastor for religious instruc- tion, f. to contribute according to his means toward the support of the minister as well as toward the other expenses of the congregation. Art. 4. All confirmed male members who are not under discipline shall receive the right to vote and hold office. Art. 5. Any member violating any of the principles laid down in the first and third articles of this chapter shall be dealt with according to Matthew 18. CHAPTER IV. THE PASTOR. The office of Pastor in this congregation can be com- mitted to such a minister only as acknowledges all the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments as the j revealed Word of God, and the collective symbolical books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, as drawn x from the Word of God and named in chapter II., to L which he is to bind himself 'in accepting the call. 4 CHAPTER V. POWERS OF THE CONGREGATION. The congregation, as a bod) has the highest power in the management of all internal and external ecclesi- astical and congregational affairs; no arrangement or de- cision for the congregation or Yor a church member as such has any validity, whether it proceed from an indi- vidual or from a body in the congregation, if it is not made in the name of, and according to the general or particular authority given by the congregation ; and that which is arranged or decided by individuals or small bodies in the name and by the authority of the congre- gation, may at any time be brought before the congre- gation, as the highest tribunal, for final decision. Nev- ertheless the congregation has no right to arrange or decide anything contrary to the Word of God and the symbols of the pure Evangelical Lutheran Church; should she do so, all such arrangements are null and void. CHAPTER VI. THE CHURCH COUNCIL. Art. i. The Church Council shall consist of the Pas- tor, who is ex-officio president, four Elders and four Dea- cons, and four Trustees. Art. 2. It shall be the duty: a. of the Elders to assist the Pastor in the ad- ministration of church discipline and to perform such services as may be needed during the ad- ministration of the Holy Sacrament and in vis- iting the sick and afflicted and in general to do all in their power to promote the welfare of the congregation, and as ex officio Trustees to take 5 charge of all deeds and other valuable papers of the congregation, and to be its representatives at law. I b. of the Deacons, faithfully to distribute the moneys collected for the support of the poor, and to collect necessary means for the support of the pastor and other necessary expenses of the congregation. Art. 3. The general duties of the Council are to see that the rules and regulations of the congregation be carried out, and to see that church discipline be properly exercised on all members who hold erroneous views with regard to doctrines of the church, or live in open vice. Art. 4. The election of new members of the Council to fill vacancies shall be held in any regular congrega- tional meeting; the Elders and Deacons shall be elected for an indefinite time. Art. 5. Two-thirds of the Council with the Pastor (except when the pastorate is vacant) shall constitute a quorum. CHAPTER VII. MISCELLANEOUS. Art. 1. The congregation elects one Secretary and one Treasurer. v Art. 2. Should at any time a separation take place in the congregation (which God forbid !), the church prop- erty and all its advantages shall belong to 'that party which remains faithful to this constitution and binds its pastor to do the same. Art. 3. By-laws and amendments to this Constitution may be made at any regular congregational meeting by a vote of not less than two-thirds of the members pres- ent; provided, however,. that the subject matter of such by-law or amendment be published to the congregation at least two weeks beforehand. Art. 4. The above regulation applies to all the arti- cles of this constitution except Chapter II. Chapter III, Articles 1, 3, and 5; Chapter IV; Chapter V; and Chap- ter VII, Article 4, which are unchangeable. BY-LAWS. i . There shall be four regular congregational meet- ings during the year, to be held, on the third Sunday in January and every three months thereafter; and one- half of the voting members shall constitute a quorum, provided that each one absent send a valid excuse or be counted as consenting, (i. e. Every absent member not sending a valid excuse is looked upon as being present.) 2, Special meetings of the congregation may be called by the pastor at any time; it shall be his duty, however, to do so when requested by the Council or by three church members.